The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands, that decorative elements of a cheerleading uniform are protectable by copyright law, a ruling the Court said was aimed at resolving "widespread disagreement" on when such designs are eligible for protection. The decision bolsters the legal protections for pictures, sculptures and graphic designs. The case examined the limits of copyright protection for clothing, furniture and other useful items that can have both functional and distinctive ornamental aspects. The Court reasoned that the cheerleader uniform design met the test of being able to "exist as its own pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work" and that it was eligible for copyright protection when it was separated from the utilitarian article. The ruling could have expansive implications for designers in the fashion industry, who seek to protect ornamental designs that are affixed on useful articles like clothing.
Supreme Court Rules Cheerleader Uniform CopyrightableWritten by David Andrew Joseph
Mr. Joseph earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance from The Florida State University College of Business, and his law degree, from Loyola University New Orleans. While at Loyola University he served on the board of the Hispanic Latino Student Association, and earned a certificate in International Legal Studies. Mr. Joseph is admitted to practice law in the State of Florida, as well as in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Mr. Joseph is fluent in Spanish, and is a member of the American Bar Association and the Dade County Bar Association, Young Lawyers Section.
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